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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

16 Dead In Yemen After U.S. Embassy Attacked

According to officials, 16 people are dead, six of which were the attackers after assaulting the U.S. Embassy in the Yemeni capital on Wednesday armed with automatic weapons, rocket-propelled grenades and at least one suicide car bomb.

The Associated Press reports that officials says the attacks bore "all the hallmarks of an al-Qaida attack," as multiple explosions rocked the U.S. Embassy in Yemen.

Six Yemeni guards and four civilians and six attackers are included in the body count which is being called the deadliest attack on the Embassy in Yemen which has been attacked four times in recent years.

Just last month, the State Department allowed the return of non-essential personnel and family members who had been ordered to leave after a volley of mortars targeted the embassy. The attack instead hit a girls high school next door, killing a Yemeni security guard and wounding more than a dozen girls.

In the 9:15 a.m. attack Wednesday, gunmen in a vehicle attacked a checkpoint outside the embassy with RPGs and automatic weapons, Yemeni security officials said. During the assault, suicide bombers in a vehicle made it through the checkpoint and hit a second, inner ring of concrete blocks, and detonated, the officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the press.

President Bush said, "This attack is a reminder that we are at war with extremists who will murder innocent people to achieve their ideological objectives."

Some of terrorists were said to be wearing Yemeni military uniforms. Two suicide car bombs were said to have been used in today's attack and according to THE state news agency SABA, no gun battle was reported.

There was a conflicting report about gun battles with other officials saying that the first responders, Yemeni emergency personnel, were fired upon when rushing to the scene by snipers.

Other accounts claim there were up to five explosions heard but it is unclear if some of those were secondary explosions caused by the firs set.

Yemeni security officials said a little-known group called Islamic Jihad, unrelated to the Palestinian group of the same name, claimed responsiblity for the attack. But Yemeni authorities have blamed the group in past attacks that have later been claimed by al-Qaida in postings on the Internet.

The Telegraph brings some eyewitness reports which seem to favor the report that says there was a gun battle of some type, with Trevor Mason, a British eyewitness who lives in an apartment block close to the US embassy compound, saying "We heard the sounds of a heavy gun battle going on. I looked out my window, and we saw the first explosion going off - a massive fireball very close to the US embassy.

The gun battle went on for a further 10 to 15 minutes, followed by two further loud explosions."

Despite conflicting reports, most of them do affirm that 16 people are dead and six of them were the attackers themselves.